Oral cancer is a potentially preventable disease due to its association with well-known risk factors and easy detectability. There is a significant deficiency in the awareness of oral cancer and its risk factors among the public. Raising public awareness could effectively contribute to achieving a significant reduction in the incidence of oral cancer. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of mouth self-examination (MSE) in improving the awareness of oral cancer and its risk factors as well as test its feasibility as an oral cancer-screening tool. The study was carried out in a high-risk population of 57,704 from India, of which, 34,766 individuals who have met the eligibility criteria formed the study population. MSE brochures and trained health workers were employed for the purpose of health education and cancer screening. The present study compared their efficacy to detect oral lesions. Subjects with suspicious lesions were referred to the trained oral cancer specialist for confirmation. A questionnaire to assess the awareness of oral cancer and its risk factors was developed and validated. SPSS (v.11.0) was used for data analysis. The program identified 216 cases of potentially malignant lesions as well as three cases of oral cancer. The findings of MSE and health workers showed 72% concordance, while that of health workers and oral cancer specialist showed 100% concordance. MSE had a low sensitivity of 18%, while the specificity was 99.9%. Though the technique identified high-risk lesions such as red patches (66.7%) and non-healing ulcers (42.9%), the detection rate of white patches was low (12.7%). Overall awareness of oral cancer and its risk factors after introduction of MSE program was over 80%; but the compliance to seek treatment was poor (32%). Mouth self-examination may be used as an effective tool to improve the awareness of oral cancer and for the early detection of lesions. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.
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K. Ja Elango, Anandkrishnan, Nb, Suresh, Aa, Iyer, S. Kb, Ramaiyer, S. Kc, and Kuriakose, M. Aad, “Mouth self-examination to improve oral cancer awareness and early detection in a high-risk population”, Oral Oncology, vol. 47, pp. 620-624, 2011.